There are times, particularly through the winter months, when a cough, sore throat, or sniffles seem to be constant companions. Colds and flu are common conditions, and if you’ve ever visited a healthcare provider for relief, you were likely sent home with the classic advice of lots of rest, lots of fluids, and over-the-counter products to help relieve your symptoms.
Yet, there are times when a cough persists, or when it’s accompanied by other symptoms that increase both the discomfort and the urgency of treatment. Knowing the difference can get you through a more serious illness quickly and safely.
There are two general reasons why you should escalate the urgency of medical care for a cough: conditions and symptoms.
Any condition that affects your immune system can make a cough potentially more significant. Even when your cough accompanies a common cold, a weakened immune system may allow the respiratory infection to progress in ways it wouldn’t otherwise. Conditions that weaken your immune system include:
Other conditions may not have a direct immune system relationship but may put you at risk if you develop pneumonia. Conditions that could compromise your ability to withstand the rigors of pneumonia are also a reason to seek urgent care treatment for your cough. These conditions include:
If you have a cough in conjunction with certain other symptoms, it could be a sign of a more serious complication or illness. Seek urgent care if your cough is accompanied by:
It’s important to listen to your body, and if you have concerns that your cough may be serious, it’s probably a good idea to seek treatment. However, most coughs are due to upper respiratory system infections. These don’t respond to antibiotics or other direct treatment. The infections must run their course and treatment of symptoms is your only option.
When a cough produces phlegm as part of your respiratory infection, it’s often best not to take cough suppressants, but instead to let the coughing mechanism clear this congestion from your lungs. Throat irritation will likely accompany the cough, so treat this with throat lozenges or hard candies.
Honey is also a folk remedy that helps soothe your throat, and you may breathe easier with a vaporizer, room humidifier, or under a steamy shower. Staying hydrated keeps the consistency of phlegm less viscous, making it easier to discharge. Warm liquids such as tea, broth, and the classic chicken soup may help reduce your symptoms.
When you need urgent care, it’s time to contact Dr. Hamm and the team at ERgent Med. Call the number of the most convenient location or use the online booking tool to request an appointment. The Brunswick location is open extended hours through the week for your convenience.